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Vast Data has introduced a selling model that lets customers get the hardware component of an appliance at cost from the manufacturer.
Called Gemini, the flash storage startup's new appliance model allows customers to buy integrated appliances loaded with Vast file and object software directly from its hardware manufacturer partners and at cost. This allows customers to upgrade their hardware at their own pace and build asymmetric storage infrastructure, as the Vast Data software works across multiple generations of hardware.
Vast Data Gemini works with the hardware manufacturer and provides transparency on the hardware cost, allowing customers to decide when to make hardware investments based on their performance and capacity needs.
Previously, Vast Data sold appliances with software attached to specific hardware at each capacity tier. Upgrading to more storage capacity also meant more performance, which led to customers paying for performance they didn't need.
This new selling model offers the flexibility of software-defined storage but keeps the appliance in the conversation, said Jeff Denworth, chief marketing officer at Vast Data. From watching Vast customers' buying preferences, Denworth concluded that Gemini was a better path for Vast than going completely software-defined. Customers wanted control of their hardware purchase schedule, but they also didn't want to go to a full subscription when it came to buying file and object storage.
"We're out of the hardware business, but not out of the appliance business, because customers still want appliances," Denworth said.
Since it's not an "array-centric" selling model, Vast Data's Gemini licenses are priced by capacity. Previously, Vast Data's licenses and costs were tied to the hardware component of the appliance.
Focused on flash
Vast Data competes with all-flash storage products such as those from Pure Storage, Dell EMC and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Where others focus on performance, Vast focuses on lowering the cost of flash as a storage medium, Denworth said. Vast Data is pushing flash as universal storage -- the single medium to hold all tiers of storage.
Scott SinclairSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group
The company also unveiled its Co-Pilot program alongside Gemini's launch. Each new customer will be paired with a Level 3 engineer who provides monitoring and support of their Vast deployment. Each co-pilot helps customers with management, planning, expansion and day-to-day operation of their Vast system, and will also bring feature requests to the attention of Vast's developers.
The Gemini model is valuable for customers because it simplifies deployments and offers hardware flexibility, said Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a division of TechTarget. Letting customers expand performance and capacity separately is very "cloud-like" and removes one of the drawbacks of buying on-premises storage versus cloud storage.
Gemini will be most useful to customers with fast-growing storage capacity needs, which is a significant segment of the enterprise market, Sinclair said. Massive data growth is happening everywhere, both in the cloud and in the data center, and an ESG study found 25% of organizations expect their on-premises data growth rate to exceed 50% annually for the next three years.
"The bottom line is data growth is a pervasive challenge, regardless of the infrastructure location," Sinclair said.
IT organizations are also prioritizing support more due to the scale of today's IT environments, Sinclair said. Issue resolution with traditional support models and climbing through multiple tiers of support is insufficient at this size. Vast Data's Co-Pilot program addresses this need by giving customers immediate access to experts, which has become invaluable, Sinclair said.